Within the Youth for Democracy programme 2018-2019, the annual Youth Peace Camp was held from 26 June to July at the European Youth Centre Budapest in 2018.

The participants in the activity were young people from conflict-stricken communities across Europe in particular from border regions and ethnic minorities; for many of them this was the first time when they were be able to talk, listen to, and engage in constructive dialogue with young people “from the other side/s” of the conflict. Through the programme of the camp participants strengthened their capacity to engage with other young people on conflict transformation activities based on human rights education and intercultural learning. This year young people from Kosovo* (Albanian, Serbian and other communities), from Cyprus (Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots) and from the South Caucasus attended the camp.

Me and Peace (poem)

This poem was written by Hakob Gasparyan after Dialogue Day.

I have lived in a world where the weather was so cold
I have eaten dry food, it was all I could cook.
I have seen the evilness because humans were careless.
But now I am the youth who has dreams
I am a human who has fears
because I grew up thinking for peace.

I will become a man with family
I will become a person with identity
because I want to cut off the non-humanity.

And I was in a Tunnel, where the light wasn’t so colorful
I couldn’t feel nothing about you,
because I weren’t there for you.

Now I am hoping for me and I am hoping for you
That one day we will get out of it through.

Now I am seeing a sunshine from the sun,
which is on your line
I hope you can see too
because now everything is blue.

The group was addressed by a number of speakers, including Matjaz Gruden, Director of Democratic Participation, Council of Europe who official opened the programme. In his speech, the director recalled that all young people have the right to enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities and should not live in communities and societies divided by prejudice and mistrust. He invited he participants to get ready to step out from their comfort zone and open up during the camp and identify building blocks of reconciliation together, and emphasised the values and principles that underpin the Council of Europe’s work.

On Day 3 that was dedicated to exploring conflict and communication, Albina Ovcearenco from the Directorate of Political Affairs gave a presentation on the relevant political work that is being done at the Council of Europe and also emphasized the importance of confidence building measures. On the closing day, Gizem Kilinc, Leading coordinator at the UNOY Peacebuilders and a member of the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe presented the work of the Advisory Council and shared good practices on how the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security can be used in youth work and peacebuilding. The Youth Peace Camp was officially closed with the intervention of Antje Rothemund, Head of the Youth Department.

The rythm of holding Youth Peace Camps is to be changed from yearly to biennial after 2018, giving more space for structured and properly supported follow-up. The follow up is expected to be based on the needs of participants in designing and implementing their follow up initiatives, and it should also enhance the effect of the Youth Peace Camp and give visibility to successful local and regional peace-building efforts by young participants from this year’s or previous camps. Therefore in the camp’s programme in 2018 there specific attention was paid to the preparations of follow up initiatives in 2019.

Final report of the Youth Peace Camp 2018 >>

* All reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.

Link to Youth Together